Accurate and robust control of precision equipment



High-tech machines  used in semicon, analytical and health markets have several elements in common, two of them are the continuous need for more accuracy, and increasing throughput over time. While implementing these needs, in many cases the maximum capabilities of mechanical constructions are reached, either from a technical point of view, or from a cost perspective. This is where advanced control systems come in to extend the system performance against affordable costs: NTS has a broad experience in developing and realizing (advanced) position control systems for various applications in order to provide the most optimal solution to our customers.


Motion control for high-tech systems

Developing a successful high-tech system asks for a sound dynamics, mechanical and electronics design in the first place, since you are always bound to the laws of physics. On top of that, motion control  does contribute in pushing the limits of speed, functionality and accuracy. Our motion control architectures are highly scalable, and we have developed complex systems for customers with over 20 motion controlled axes with micrometer accuracy

Control performance, robustness and cost price

The trade-off between control performance, robustness and cost price is made in every customer project. For both the high- and low-end solutions our in-house developed Control Toolbox supports the control engineer with controller tuning and debug facilities. In this way the system is quickly up & running and the toolbox facilitates the tuning for optimal performance.

Motion control solutions to shorten time to market

For high-performance mechatronic systems, such as wafer stages requiring 6 Degrees-of-Freedom (6DoF) control, NTS typically works with high-end commercially-off-the-shelf motion controllers, together with re-usable software building blocks from the NTS software framework. For applications where the control requirements are less demanding and cost price is leading, low-end control platforms are applied.

For systems with either high-end or low-end motion control requirements, NTS offers different hardware solutions, which are supplied by established vendors. This approach reduces the development costs and the project risks, and is beneficial for time to market. Furthermore the worldwide availability of spare parts for these hardware building blocks is assured

"As your partner, NTS implements motion control solutions based on proven building blocks in combination with dynamics, mechanical, electronic and software design to realize high speed & high accuracy system solutions"

- Hanno Schouten, System Architect at NTS

Control design is part of a multidisciplinary approach

When designing motion control systems, it is always a joint effort between system dynamics, mechanics, electronics and software. Control performance and thus control engineering typically deals with the overlapping fields between these disciplines.

Incorporate mechanical design into control design

For high-precision dynamic systems it is crucial to incorporate the characteristics of the mechanical design in form of the mode shapes of the system into the control design. Therefore we apply the NTS System Dynamics Toolbox, enabling fast iteration loops between mechanical / dynamics design and control performance. Control engineering and electrical engineering typically cooperate closely for component selection or semi-custom development for actuators and/or sensors.

Motion control and software

For both high- and low-end control engineering, software plays a crucial role. As we apply industry standard motion controllers, we have developed reusable software building blocks that at one hand take care of real-time system behaviour for specific machine functions and at other hand provide the interface between the motion control functionality and the machine system software.

For low-end control applications, where the focus is more on automation and costs, and less on speed and accuracy, the control functionality- and software are  more entangled. In this type of applications the amount of real-time control can be minimal, and most functionality is handled by a non-real-time software layer. Our development tool NTS Motion Studio supports both type of applications. The control algorithms we implement are typically PID with Feed Forward. Furthermore, advanced algorithms as Iterative Learning Control (ILC), input shaping, observers, vision-in-the-loop are also applied depending on control performance requirements. Our motion control architecture also delivers labelled/timestamped data for machine functions like Predictive Maintenance.

Read more about our software competences.

Software solutions at NTS

What do we offer?

NTS provides motion control solutions consisting of hardware and software building bocks that meet your specific required mix of time to market, cost and performance criteria. More and more aspects of the machine performance are determined by the capabilities of the motion control system.

NTS customer solutions are targeted to your application and business case. This is achieved by:

  • Balancing the needs on accuracy, speed and costs and selection of the appropriate hardware and software building blocks.
  • Offering a portfolio of proven control solutions including interfaces to 3rd party products enabling a shorter time to market.
  • Our motion control functionality runs on commoditized hardware platforms enabling easy integration with 3rd party products.

What can you expect?

  • Motion Control architects and -designers fully integrated in multidisciplinary and co-located design teams for high tech systems.
  • Due to the re-use of existing building blocks, the motion control functionality is being created in parallel with the hardware design, enabling faster time to market at lower costs.
  • Due to the re-use of existing motion control building blocks implemented in software, we have functionalities like Graphical User Interfaces and diagnostics & tracing already available during prototyping phase, eliminating the need to develop temporary software scripts for test- and integration activities.

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